Thursday, March 31, 2016


I'm back!! Mostly. As of today I am at least 90% myself- I wore makeup and everything, but holy crap coming back from the flu was a PROCESS and a really crappy one.

When I last posted it was Monday afternoon and I'd been in a depressed delirium all day. Still popping fevers, still sleepy and out of it, still weak as a kitten while not being nearly as adorable. I'd missed Easter with my kids and basically lived on the couch, a sad crumbled curmudgeon who changed shirts every 90 minutes because she kept sweating through them. I was not in a great place.

On Tuesday I woke up feeling human-ish, so I went to work at 10 and by 3 I was done. Capital-D-done. It was good to take a step back into the real world, but I got home, curled up on the couch, turned on the TV for the kids and waited semi-awake for James to get home and do all the things for the 7th day in a row. He did and I went to bed and slept for 15 hours.

I went to work again yesterday, for 5 hours this time, and felt good enough at the end to stop at the store, make dinner, pour a glass of wine, and actually join the family while eating it! Huge steps forward! I really missed them.

tonight's front yard shenanigans

oh, we go down the step?

nailed it!

Today was basically a regular full day, topped with another swim lesson for Cora (started out bad then went SO well!), and then I sat outside and watched the kids play on a beautiful evening and felt so good, I texted our nanny and asked her to come back at 7 and surprised James with a date night.


I was back baby. Margaritas and flirting and conversation- I am non-feverish, non-sweaty person who wears clothes that aren't pajamas! Let's drink TWO margaritas and then you can carry me to the car because WHOAH I have lost my tolerance for alcohol.

totally unnecessary

On the upside, all the swim suits I ordered from Express when the site was 50% off came in yesterday and I tried them on last night and the post-flu look is a flattering one if you ignore all the paleness.

I ended up keeping this one. Cute, yes? I can't wait until we can uncover our pool again- it's my favorite part of the whole year where the kids swim all day and I sit in the shade and sip cocktails and invite friends over and then everyone under 10 falls asleep super early and it's just the best.

I'll be back at the barre on Saturday and then I can't wait to get back into my newly claimed groove of barre, yoga, and Orangetheory HIIT and just feel like a strong, steady-temperatured person again. 8 days of vacation, 5 days of vacation recovery, 7 days of flu and I'm (mostly) back baby!

Irrelevant, but I found this in the playroom and it cracked me up. Proof positive that Cora remains everyone's favorite person in our house.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Flu

When we last spoke I was shivering and boiling on the couch waiting to die. Not a lot has changed.

Through some sort of stubborn, delirious, utterly unhinged optimism I still thought I'd teach my Saturday barre class, but after waking up for the 3rd time in the night to change my clothes and our sheets (or, by 5 a.m., just stick a new towel under me) because I'd sweated through everything in yet another fever-breaking night sweat, I texted all my teachers begging for a sub. James had scheduled makeup swim lessons for Saturday morning, so he left before I was awake, and sometime around 10 I blearily emerged from our room to find the kids playing nicely in the playroom where they filled me in on the happenings on the family while I'd been out. Thank god for increasingly older kids who can responsibly run the house without me.

James raced home at 11, thinking I was still teaching, only to find me dying on the couch instead. I knew I needed to go to the doctor but couldn't work up the energy, so he took the big kids to the Y, grocery store, and Costco and put Cora to bed so I could nap in peace. When they returned I decided I really needed to go to the doctor, but unfortunately now it was time for them to go the children's play we'd been anticipating and our babysitter couldn't make it over to watch Cora, so she and I got to go spend 2 hours of quality time in Urgent Care together.

My flu test came back positive, of course. I had another intense fever that resulted in me sweating through all my clothes AGAIN and ugh I've never felt so gross and awful. Cora sat on the table and took careful notes on my plan of care because after about an hour I was just curled up in a ball in the chair moaning.

I begged for a steroid shot because the most intense pain I had was in my ears and cheek bones, got a prescription for Tamiflu and a decongestant (I went through an entire box of kleenex in her office), and then finally got home at 6 where I curled up on the couch and didn't move again for 4 hours. No Easter decorating, no baking, no filling eggs and thinking of the best places to hide the kids' Easter baskets in the morning. Just me, hacking and coughing and sweating and weakly telling anyone who got near me to please just go away. Happy Easter everyone!

James did a great job doing everything and keeping the kids as far away from me as possible, but it just takes two people to make a house run properly with three kids and I HATE blearily watching it all from the couch wishing I could help while meakly calling out more things for him to do. I did manage to fill the Easter baskets and then he hid them and all the eggs while I watched.

Doing all the things

Three night sweats later, I woke up to Landon tearfully telling me that Claire had already found his basket and told him where it was despite our strict instructions that no one was to go into the living room without coming to us first. It took me about 5 minutes to figure out what he was talking about and then I pushed James out of bed to deal with it only to fall asleep again. When I woke up again I found that James was holding everyone and upon seeing me, the kids were unleashed to the living room where Landon got to look for Claire's basket while she waited on the couch and then everyone helped Cora and found their eggs.

The traditional Easter swimsuits were unfurled, coordinating flip flops were donned, and notes were taken.

James made brunch. I wished I wanted a mimosa, but fell asleep on the couch again instead.

not homemade

I woke up to a text from James saying he'd taken the kids to the park. They got home and then he took them out to dinner.

So it was as successful of an Easter as it could be with me spending half the day asleep on the couch. The kids had fun and were kept as far away from me as possible. Yay?

Next year better involve a healthy me making homemade cinnamon rolls and carrot cake and forcing everyone to take adorable pictures of everyone dressed up for church because I am NOT missing another holiday from the couch again. I'm tired and weak and clammy and at least 5 shades paler than the pale side of porcelain that I was before. I'm pretty sure my muscles are atrophying and I have no idea what is happening in the world beyond my couch. I've fallen asleep twice today and woken up more disoriented with each nap. I need to start writing myself notes so I can come to faster- the kids are at school, James is at the pool, you have the flu, it's all going to be okay. Maybe just a few more days?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Bunny Swim Fever

The good news is, I'm not being a total drama queen about returning from vacation. The bad news is I'm sick and possibly dying. I'm being dramatic about that instead.

But first, we need to discuss the cluster that was yesterday. I woke up late and feeling crappy. After Cora excitedly showed off her bunny sweater, she started crying when it was time to leave for school, sobbing "no school... stay HERE... stay here" which is just the worst. I left James to deal with that and made it to work in time for a meeting, then left again just in time to make it to Cora's 10:30 egg hunt, which was actually at 9:50 despite what a teacher told me on the phone just that morning, so we missed the whole thing. Then I followed James home to grab Cora's swim suit for her lesson later and James closed the giant metal driveway gate on my car as I was driving through.

Didn't you know I was behind you???!!

I did. I even told myself not to close the gate... and then I pressed the button. I can't explain it.


I drove my new car with its newer scratch to run a few errands I deeply did not want to do as my lunch break and went back to work where I felt increasingly terrible. The only reason I didn't go home was knowing that the big kids were there and I needed to get Cora to her first swim lesson at 5. So I persevered, not even excited about eating cookies during an afternoon meeting- I should have known right there something terrible was happening to me on a microscopic level.

I went home to grab the big kids and pick up Cora- she was super excited to see us, screaming "NANAT!!" and "YAYA!!!" and giving so many hugs it took us 10 minutes to make it down her hallway. We got to James's pool "DADDY'S POOL?!!!" and she was SO EXCITED to be there. She was a little skeptical when we changed into her swim suit, but willing to let things play out. We waved to James in the water and sat on the chairs in the back of the pool.

Who's going to rock her swim lesson?

This girl!

Cora had just decided that swim lessons were the best!

And then her teacher came to get her and she clung to my neck like a spider monkey and had to be pried off while sobbing, but really, despite the intermittent crying and her ineffective wails for daddy who was teaching his own lesson, it went pretty well.

She did not believe the princess dive stick needed saving.

And she initially refused to high five after the lesson.

But in the end, she was willing to think about what she learned.

I'd been slowly failing throughout the lesson and then everything fell apart on the 10 minute ride home. I was nauseous, shaky, freezing, achy, boiling hot and covered in goose bumps. When we got home I mumbled for the kids to clean up the playroom and then do... just whatever while I stripped and took a hot bath and then curled up in the couch like a sad, fleece-covered shrimp until James came home an hour later. When he got home, he was talking about his lessons, Cora's success, etc. and then he saw me on the couch, stopped in his tracks, and said, Holy crap.

I was shivering with a 103 fever and everything hurt.

So, that sucked. James did everything while I watched Pitch Perfect 2 from the couch. Then when he finally got to sit down, I watched it again, and I looked so pathetic, he didn't even complain. I had a rough night filled with night sweats, which left me soaking wet and freezing, and then a few delirious minutes later I'd be boiling hot once again.

The kids are off school, so I've farmed them out to friends (thank you friends!) while Cora naps and then they'll be at gymnastics and I'll just try to keep Cora away from me until James gets home with the kids at 6:15. This will be tricky because she's by far our most exuberantly affectionate child. At some point this morning, while I was still delirious, I thought there was a Cora on my face but later dismissed it as a fever dream. When I finally emerged from our room around 11 and asked James about it he said yes, that did happen- he'd gone into our bathroom, leaving our bedroom door cracked open, and Cora raced in, climbed up our bed and on top of me and was giving me big hugs and patting my face, exclaiming "MAMA! MAMA!" repeatedly until he pried her off. He was a little freaked out I didn't remember.

We'll see how it goes. The good news is Pitch Perfect 2 just popped back up on HBO, so I have that going for me.

Update: Got worse through Friday night and Saturday morning and finally dragged myself to urgent care on Saturday afternoon (with Cora!) while the big kids and James were at a play I was also supposed to be attending while a (now sick) babysitter watched Cora. I have the flu. The flu is terrible. Happy Easter!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Burn on Reentry

Coming back to Earth after a week on Mars has been a STRUGGLE. In no small part evidenced by the fact I first typed that sentence on Monday and now it's Thursday and I still haven't finished the post to publish it.

At first it was fine- we pulled in our driveway about 10:30 on Saturday night, unpacked the car, tucked the kids in bed, had all the bags unpacked and ourselves in bed by midnight. The drive was long, but it went well and I expected to jump right back in the swing of things on Sunday morning. But then I couldn't sleep. I was on pre-DST Mountain Time and we'd been going to bed at midnight every night. I now fall asleep around 2 a.m. and it's killing me. After a day in the car I thought it would feel so nice to do my regular Sunday morning hot yoga class. Get warmed up, stretched out, feel all zen going into our last day before reality hits on Monday.

But no.

First I couldn't fall asleep and then I couldn't wake up before 8. I signed in for a 10 a.m. class with a new teacher, still totally sure this was going to begreat. I got in the room and it instantly felt too hot. We started to warm up and I was already counting down for the break. My heart raced when we were doing things like standing in mountain post (you literally pretend to be a mountain. not even an arch. a nice tall straight mountain.). I was dizzy. My balance was terrible. Standing Bow was like a game of I'm a Little Teapot. All I wanted to do was lay in savasana. I persevered, taking more breaks than normal, wondering why my throat felt like it was closing shut and my cardiovascular system was running a marathon up a mountain pose. The new teacher never opened the doors so we didn't get fresh air and that did not help. Finally, with 30 minutes remaining, I had to leave the room. I have never left the room. They tell you in the beginning "you're only goal is to stay on your mat" and I DIDN'T STAY ON MY MAT. I failed hot yoga. I sat down on the floor of the hallway and tried desperately to find my breath. Ten minutes later I found it again, and I went back in to do a few stretches and steal an early savasana until the end.

So it was not quite the joyous detox of my usual Sunday morning yoga, but I figured I was dehydrated and tired from the drive. The day moved forward, with some grocery shopping, laundry, and a lot of sitting on the couch and wondering why I couldn't see any red rocks. It was crazy to think about returning to work. I've never minded working, but do you know what is SO much more fun than going to work? NOT GOING TO WORK. It's kind of amazing. And now that the kids are older and less dependent on their routines and sleeping in their own beds, it didn't even feel all that great to be home. I mean, it's always sad that vacation is over, but usually you can feel a little nice to get back in the groove. But we had our groove in Utah. I apparently had way more of a groove in Utah. In Fort Worth I am grooveless.

But we marched along. The kids went back to school, Cora cheerfully ran into her preschool, James dug back into his one thousand emails. By Tuesday night I'd survived two days of not wearing my new Lululemon hiking pants and was driving to a 7:00 Orangetheory class that had sounded like a super good idea on Sunday morning before I knew hot yoga was going to almost kill me. I was still falling asleep around 2 a.m. each morning and was not particularly excited about High Intensity Interval Training, but I was signed in and would forfeit the fee anyway, so off I went.

And omg, I was kind of a mess. On the run intervals I kept decreasing the speed instead of increasing it. We did concentration curls and I stared at my weight, genuinely curious about why it wasn't curling towards my shoulder. I mean, I'd sent the signals from my brain, but my biceps were just silently laughing while I looked at them in confusion. It didn't feel as bad as hot yoga- it actually felt kind of good to move again, but I was not impressive. And then my heart rate monitor zeroed out and my screen went to grey, basically pronouncing that my heart had stopped, and I had a moment where I was sad that I wasn't burning calories anymore. I possibly had MANY continuous moments-possibly minutes- where I lamented this, while still running my heart out at a misleadingly slow speed before I remembered that since I was still moving, I was in fact still burning calories, regardless of what the screen said. Oh. Right.

Then late Tuesday night, after I'd survived my class and not felt nearly as victorious on my drive home as expected (I played the smooth stylings of Mark Wilkinson instead of yelling along to the sassy Meghan Trainor "No" song, if that's any indication), I got a text from a barre teacher- she's sick, others are sick, can I please sub her Wednesday class? Oy. But I did and it was good. It was actually my most impressive performance so far this week, but only because I could take official-looking breaks to "check form" and turn up the music to cover the sound of my gasping. My legs haven't shook that much since my first class.

So now I know that despite having an active hiking-filled spring break, I am somehow COMPLETELY out of shape in all forms of exercise I was doing a mere 10 days ago and might as well have been sitting on the beach drinking gallons of daquiris for several years in a row instead.

On the upside, everyone else has adjusted fine and the kids and Cora have school off tomorrow for Good Friday. Last night while the big kids were at swimming, Cora and I enjoyed the beautiful evening weather out on our new patio. She climbed up and down from the bench, jumping off with the gusto she brought to her boulders in Utah. I sat in a chair with my feet up, sangria in hand, wearing my Moab shirt and thinking about starting dinner. Cora was modeling a new shirt she is IMMENSELY proud of. We had to stop at the store to buy Easter eggs for her class egg hunt and she showed it to everyone, yelling "TITTY TAT!!" while pointing frantically at her shirt and I burst out laughing every time.

This morning she's in a bunny sweater and it's maybe even better.

One more day. We (I) can do this.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

GANPRTSBA 2016 Day 7: Mesa Verde and Durango

I sit here in a pitch black room, headphones in (the Alessia Cara station on pandora is my new obsession), typing in the quiet while James works out in the fitness room and all the kids sleep semi-soundly in their couch bed and pack 'n play. Hotel rooms are not my favorite, but tomorrow we will be home! Eight days is the longest trip we've ever taken together, though it hasn't felt very long. I actually questioned whether today was really "day 7" because that seemed impossible and I'm still mourning leaving Utah, but it is and I'm sure it will be lovely to settle back into our permanent nest in Fort Worth. Particularly since I know we have two more family trips planned this year and the travel fun isn't over forever.

Today we packed up the condo and left around 10, heading southeast for Colorado and Mesa Verde National Park. We added this stop to solve our 15-hour drive home dilemma. Fifteen hours was just slightly too long. We've done it before, but have found 12 to be the perfect max- you leave before breakfast and arrive at your destination in time for dinner- so we decided to drive 3 hours to Durango, pausing at Mesa Verde NP along the way, chopping those extra 3 hours off at the start of the trip and leaving a nice 12 hour drive home tomorrow. Plus Mesa Verde is awesome and I have strong and wonderful memories of stopping there with my family as a kid.

(I love Cora's gaze here; she loves her "Yaya" SO MUCH)
(I also love that Landon is wearing his Canyonlands Junior Ranger badge, a new permanent accessory)

It was a relatively short 2 hour drive from Moab, particularly since we managed to restrain ourselves from pulling over to climb into one last arch while leaving Utah (you pass them along the side of the road like they're no big deal; Utah is ridiculous). There was a ton of conflicting information online about what tours would be open this time of year at Mesa Verde, so we decided to just wing it. And it's a good thing we didn't have any expectations because basically everything was closed. Normally Spruce Tree House is open in March and you can explore lots of cliff dwellings up close and personal, but due to a falling rock hazard, it's currently closed so we had to satisfy ourselves by looking from a distance.

It's still pretty incredible. And since the tours inside Cliff Palace and Balcony House are closed until April- and Cora isn't old enough to climb the ladders to get to them- we already knew we'd have to come back one day, now we just have even more incentive. It was still a fascinating tour back through time to 1-1300 AD. The kids picked up their junior ranger activity books at the visitor's center- they were very well put together and really challenged the kids to ask questions of the rangers on the trails and pay attention in the museum in order to fill in the answers.

We learned about dry farming, questas, kivas, gathering water from seeps, and the theories on why the cliff dwellings were abandoned in the 14th century. The dwellings are amazing- over 120 rooms in Spruce Tree alone, some dwellings 3 stories high, and many so well preserved in the cliff that the original floors remain. If you're ever in the area, particularly in April through October, go visit. I got to climb into the dwellings when I was a kid and remember the experience vividly.

And even if trails and tours are closed, there are a bunch of lookouts and a whole self-guided tour through preserved pit houses and pueblos you can tour in person at any time.

And there are great viewpoints into the cliff house dwellings.

We made the long drive back to the visitor's center and park exit (it's about 45 minutes back to the museum and Sun Temple dwelling), stopping so the kids could collect Junior Ranger badge #3. They took another pledge, this one slightly varied to include respecting different cultures and learning about the history of our country. My National Park loving heart just bursts in these moments.

I'd read a lot on the travel forums that the drive in Mesa Verde is pretty intense. It wasn't too bad- we've driven on much scarier highways in Colorado, but it is long and some of the grades are steep enough to make you shift your engine into a lower gear on manual, and some of the switchbacks are pretty tight. But for the most part it's just a nicely paved 2-lane road in the mountains.

Or so I thought until Landon mentioned his stomach felt "funny" on the way back and I realized I was getting dizzy while typing out a swim school email for James on his phone (it's his busiest time of year; there has been a lot of dictating emails on this trip). I've never been motion sick in my life, but I did eventually have to put the phone down and concede that maybe just once this combination of quick increases and decreases in altitude (more than 2,000 feet up then down), lack of breakfast, failure to hydrate, and an hour of reading/typing on a tiny phone screen MAYBE didn't mesh well.

We got to Durango and checked into our hotel and poor Landon, who has also never been motion sick before and usually reads books in the back corner of the car by the hour, curled on the sofa like a little shrimp and lay there for 45 minutes while James sat in the car typing emails with a Cora who had just fallen asleep in her car seat. Normally Landon needs to touch and explore every inch of a new space, but we thought maybe he was just tired from the long week.

We headed into downtown for dinner, eating at a fantastic restaurant (Carver Brewing Co- delicious!), and drinking pink raspberry wheat beer (also delicious! and I normally hate fruity beers), and nagging Landon for not eating any of his cheese pizza. As we were walking out, he looked alarmed and said, "I think I'm going to throw up!" - thank god we happened to be standing next to the women's/family bathroom, so I shoved him in and he just made it, promptly throwing up more volume than could possibly have been contained in his body, poor kid. James and the girls continued on for ice cream while I rubbed his back and told him I was so sorry for trying to make him eat his dinner.

So we returned to the hotel, barely getting to explore adorable downtown Durango (but secretly maybe relieved that we couldn't), and put on pj's, turned on a movie, and all snuggled in our beds. The kids thought that was amazing, Cora in particular, and we turned the lights and TV off at 7:50 and everyone was asleep at 8. And so I sit and type in the dark and try not to sing to my songs out loud.

Tomorrow we drive our last 850 miles and return to the flat lands of Fort Worth and pick which National Parks to tackle next!

Friday, March 18, 2016

GANPRTSBA 2016 Day 6: Arches, round 2 (and Moab)

I started this post at 4:30 p.m. when everyone in the condo was sleeping. Or at least everyone was upstairs and very, very quiet. I was curled up in a giant easy chair beside a 6-foot x 5-foot picture window looking at some red cliffs in the distance and watching Top Chef reruns with my laptop on my lap. It was lovely.

Before he disappeared James and I had just chatted about how the condo/cabin rental is such a big part of our camping and road tripping experiences. We LOVE hiking and adventuring with our kids, but we also love coming back to a solid structure in the afternoons or evenings, with walls and doors and separation and SPACE for everyone. Everyone sleeps, everyone can spread out, we have a washer and dryer and full kitchen- it makes everything so easy. I grew up trailer camping and it was awesome and maybe we'll rent on one day for a particular road trip, but for us, the combo of hiking in the wild and nesting in the comforts of an effortless temporary home is absolutely perfect.

Today was our bonus Moab day. When I first planned this road trip we were going to continue on to Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks from here, and while a part of me is still a little sad we're not, we decided we didn't want to push ourselves too hard. Cora is only 2 and still naps (though you wouldn't know because she's skipped hers for the last 4 days; she's a trooper, but we finally made today's nap a priority... by only putting her down 4 hours late instead of not even trying) and by the time we got to Bryce we would have been about 17 hours from home- it was just a bit too much.

So instead we added this extra day in fabulous Moab and now I'm so glad we did. It took the pressure off our one day in Arches- there's so much to see and if you want to bang it out through heavy reliance on viewpoints I think it's no problem to do it in one. But we're hikers and climbers and off-trail adventurers. We have to touch everything, climb on every rock, explore every cave... a 1/2 mile hike is easily a 2 hour intense climbing experience and that's the way we love it. It was wonderful to drive out on Tuesday having thoroughly exhausted ourselves and know we had another day to come back and wrap up a few short hikes we couldn't manage at the end of the first round.

Round 1; off trail

So we slept in and leisurely headed to Arches, arriving about 10:30 and stopping immediately at the visitor's center so the kids could turn in their junior ranger packets for both Arches and Canyonlands. (We had a small cheating scandal when I opened Claire's and noticed Landon's hand-writing all over it, so she had to redo once it was made clear she did not help at all and instead handed it to Landon and told him to fill it out for her.) But her packet was now done, under her own power and with her own hand, and she very proudly turned it in and answered her questions with the park ranger.

They took their pledge as Junior Rangers to "promise to teach others about what I learned today, explore other parks and historic sites, and help preserve and protect these places so future generations can enjoy them" and received their two badges. It's possible I teared up a little. Maybe. I just really love National Parks you guys.

That important task complete, we drove straight to Double Arch and the North and South Windows. We admired what we could of the Windows from the parking lot and then headed out to Double Arch, the one I REALLY wanted to see on Tuesday but just couldn't get anyone else excited about (to be fair, given how sore I was yesterday, they had the better idea of calling it a day). And it was maybe my favorite spot of our whole trip.

It helped that our weather was perfection. 50-something degrees, which is basically 90 in non-high-dessert weather, and impossible sapphire blue skies. Combined with two arches you're actually allowed to climb on? It was a perfect last hurrah at Arches.

Cora flatly refused the backpack and since the path was flat and only a quarter mile long, we let her loose and just tried to keep up.

We reached the Double Arch and she turned into a mountain goat and INSISTED on climbing up EVERYTHING. She developed her own fan club, with people cheering her on and marveling at her... persistence? fearlessness? overwhelming confidence in the face of gravity, adversity, and two parents saying "NO."?

We got to climb into one of the arches and again, scale is lost, but man it was so gorgeous and so fun.

What a spectacular place.

When we finally emerged from the arches, we walked along the sloped rock to a cave right next to the double arches. James and Landon had to climb that, while I kept Cora from jumping off the edges and Claire flitted in between the two of us. The boys finally came down and we had to walk (crawl/climb) around the corner just to see the other cave "real quick" and then it was so big and tall and climbable we bribed Cora with m&m's to get back in her pack and had to explore every inch.

It was so cool.

We came across another group of hikers who'd been at the Double Arches with us and they laughed to see Cora in her pack and said that must be a relief, though they noted they'd never seen a more sure-footed toddler, or a more terrifyingly confident one. Word.

We made it to the top of the cave and then climbed out onto a ledge to sit while the kids played "house" in a sub-cave behind us.

We finally made it down, sliding a good part of the way because whoah that was steep, and got back on the trail.

And that's why a half-mile round trip hike takes us more than two hours.

We drove out, saying goodbye to the ridiculous views that surround you out every window and ate a late lunch at the Moab Brewery (same place as dinner; I wanted more fries and nachos) and then did some shopping, picking up t-shirts and ice cream and secret Easter basket presents. James spied an antique shop (ugh, but he adores them) and I was able to use Cora's very needed nap to deter him, not to mention the idea of Cora in an antique shop is terrifying enough to send us back to our car. We put her down for a very late but at least existent nap, did some laundry, some packing and lounging/sleeping, and then decided to make dinner and go stargazing back out at Arches.

Milk shakes on Main St.

It was a perfect closing chapter- the kids clad in their pj's, winding up empty roads in pitch black when they should be in bed, getting out near the Garden of Eden to watch the sky turn on. Claire and Landon insist they counted over 500 stars each and that's entirely possible given how many were filling up the sky, just unlikely given their attention span and the fact they were counting silently in their heads.

[imagine a picture of a night sky filled with stars that I'm not skilled enough to take]

We leave in the morning, headed for Mesa Verde National Park and Durango. Moab has been incredible. We plan to come back when the kids are a little older so we can do a few activities we couldn't this time- Jeep tours, the Fiery Furnace ranger-led hike at Arches, and The Needles at Canyonlands. There's so much to see in this country and the world- I've seen a lot and plan to see a whole lot more, but this otherworldly place will always remain a favorite. What an extraordinary few days it has been getting to know it for the first time.